Page semi-protected

History of the San Diego Chargers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from San Diego Chargers)
Jump to: navigation, search
San Diego Chargers
Established 1961
Ended 2016
Played in San Diego, California
Headquartered in Chargers Park
San Diego, California
San Diego Chargers logo
San Diego Chargers wordmark
Logo Wordmark
League/conference affiliations

American Football League (1961–1969)

  • Western Division (1961–1969)

National Football League (19702016)

Team colors

Navy Blue, Powder Blue, White, Gold

Fight song San Diego Super Chargers
Owner(s) Barron Hilton (1961–1966)
Eugene Klein and Sam Schulman (1966–1984)
Alex Spanos (1984–2016)
General manager Sid Gillman (1961–1970)
Harland Svare (1971–1975)
Johnny Sanders (1976–1986)
Steve Ortmayer (1987–1989)
Bobby Beathard (1990–2000)
John Butler (2001–2003)
A. J. Smith (2003–2013)
Tom Telesco (2013–2016)
Head coach Sid Gillman (1961–1969, 1971)
Charlie Waller (1969–1970)
Harland Svare (1971 –1973)
Ron Waller (1973)
Tommy Prothro (1974–1978)
Don Coryell (1978–1986)
Al Saunders (1986–1988)
Dan Henning (1989–1991)
Bobby Ross (1992–1996)
Kevin Gilbride (1997–1998)
June Jones (1998)
Mike Riley (1999–2001)
Marty Schottenheimer (2002–2006)
Norv Turner (2007–2012)
Mike McCoy (2013–2016)
Team history
Team nicknames
The Bolts, San Diego Super Chargers

League championships (1)

  • AFL Championships: (1)

Conference championships (1)

Division championships (14)

Playoff appearances (17)
Home fields

This article recites the history of the San Diego Chargers American football team. The Chargers franchise was founded in 1959 as a charter member of the American Football League. The team played the 1960 season in Los Angeles, moving to San Diego in 1961. The Chargers played in San Diego for 56 years. In 2017, the Chargers' owner announced a move to Los Angeles, effective with the 2017 season, and renamed the team to the Los Angeles Chargers.

AFL era (1961–1970)


The Los Angeles Chargers were established in 1959 with seven other American Football League teams: the Denver Broncos, Dallas Texans, Oakland Raiders, New York Titans, Houston Oilers, Buffalo Bills, and Boston Patriots.

Frank Leahy, former Notre Dame University football coach, was named the team's first general manager. Gerald Courtney of Hollywood won an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico City and Acapulco for submitting "Chargers" in a name-the-team contest. In 1960, the Chargers began AFL play in Los Angeles; hotel heir Barron Hilton, the team's original owner and son of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton, unveiled the Chargers' uniforms which featured blue and gold with lightning bolts on the sides of the helmets and trousers, at a cocktail party at Hilton's Santa Monica residence. Players Jack Kemp and Ron Mix modeled the new uniforms. The Chargers spent only one season in L.A. before moving to San Diego in 1961. From 1961 to 1966 their home field in San Diego was Balboa Stadium in Balboa Park. As of August 1967 they moved to the newly constructed San Diego Stadium (now called Qualcomm Stadium).

They played ten years in the AFL before the merging of the league into the older NFL. During that ten-year span, San Diego reached the AFL Championship Game five times winning once. They won their only AFL title in 1963 when they beat the Boston Patriots 51–10 before 30,127 fans at Balboa Stadium in San Diego.

Their only coach for the ten-year life of the AFL was Sid Gillman, former coach of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, who originally signed a three-year contract as head coach. Gillman (87–57–6), who was later voted to the Hall of Fame, was widely recognized as a great offensive innovator.[citation needed] He also took on the dual role of coach and general manager after Frank Leahy resigned because of poor health. The Chargers, with star offensive players Lance Alworth, Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln and John Hadl, struck fear into the hearts of defenders.[citation needed] The Chargers overcame a 20–7 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Dallas 21–20 before 17,724 persons in the L.A. Coliseum in the opening league game. A crowd of 9,928 in the L.A. Coliseum watched the Chargers top Denver 41–33 to clinch the AFL Western Division title. American Broadcasting Company (ABC) held the television rights and televised key games.

On January 1, a crowd of 32,183 in Jeppesen Stadium and a national television audience saw host Houston defeat the Chargers 24–16 in the AFL championship game. For the 1961 season, Hilton moved the team 125 miles south to San Diego. The defense recorded 49 pass interceptions as the AFL played an exciting brand of football featuring strong passing attacks. The Chargers were the originators of the term "Fearsome Foursome" to describe their all-star defensive line, anchored by Earl Faison and Ernie Ladd (the latter also dabbled in professional wrestling). The phrase was later appropriated by various NFL teams. Houston defeated Chargers 10–3 before 29,556 persons in Balboa Stadium to win the second AFL championship. The Chargers stumbled to a 4-10 record, by losing eight of their last nine games due to a rash of injuries that derail their high flying team.

Eight Chargers score and Paul Lowe rushes for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries as the Chargers clinch AFL West title with 58-20 victory over Denver; season ended week later than scheduled after AFL postponed games weekend following Nov. 22 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Keith Lincoln accounts for 349 yards of total offense as Chargers win the AFL championship, defeating Boston 51-10, before 30,127 persons in Balboa Stadium, as of 2016, this was the last professional sports championship for the city of San Diego. AFL teams sign a five-year television contract with National Broadcasting Company for a record $36 million; the contract will commence with the 1965 season. The Chargers and New York Jets tied 17-17 before a record AFL crowd of 50,222 fans, 46,828 paid in New York's Shea Stadium . A Balboa Stadium attendance record of 34,865 is set as Buffalo defeats San Diego 27-24 on Thanksgiving Day. The Chargers defeat the Jets 38-3 before 25,753 persons in Balboa Stadium to clinch their fourth AFL West title in five years. Lance Alworth went out of the game with a knee injury and fullback Keith Lincoln gets sidelined in the first quarter with a fractured rib, the Chargers are beaten 20-7 in Buffalo for the AFL championship.

San Diego (9-2-3) wins fifth AFL West title in six years by defeating Houston on December 12 by the score of 37-26. Paul Lowe and Lance Alworth finish 1-2 in balloting by players for AFL player of the year. Buffalo defeats the Chargers 23-0 in front of 30,361 people in Balboa Stadium for the AFL championship; a new automobile, the "Charger", is introduced by Chrysler officials at halftime.

Hilton sold the Chargers to a group headed by Eugene Klein and Sam Schulman in August 1966

AFL and National Football League teams announced plans to merge in the 1970 season and Chargers and Los Angeles Rams announce they will play three preseason games in San Diego Stadium, beginning in 1967. In 1966, Hilton sold the Chargers to a group of 21 business executives led by investors Eugene V. Klein and Sam Schulman who purchase the Chargers for $10 million, which was considered a record transaction in professional football at the time. On the field, San Diego falls the third in the West with a 7-6-1 record


The following year the Chargers began "head to head" competition with the older NFL with a preseason game at San Diego Stadium against the Detroit Lions in front of a dedicated before a crowd of 45,988. Detroit defeated the Chargers 38-17. Leslie "Speedy" Duncan has 203 yards in returns, 35 on a fumble recovery for a touchdown, 68 on four kickoff returns, and 100 for a touchdown on the longest interception return in AFL history as the Chargers defeat Kansas City 45-31 in a game in which the teams combine for 897 yards total offense and 622 in returns. The Chargers are beaten by Oakland 41-21 before the first sellout crowd in the San Diego Stadium, 52,661 persons, and 2,018 persons also watched the game on closed-circuit television in the San Diego Sports Arena. John Hadl wins M.V.P.

In 1968, The Chargers open the preseason at home and score their first victory over an NFL team, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 30-18 before 39,553 in San Diego Stadium. Leslie "Speedy" Duncan set an AFL record with a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 37-15 loss to the New York Jets in San Diego Stadium. Team finishes third in the West with a 9-5 record. John Hadl leads the league in pass attempts (440), completions (208), yardage (3,473), touchdown passes (27) and passes intercepted[1].

In 1969, After opening the season with two losses, the Chargers defeat the defending Super Bowl III champion New York Jets featuring QB Joe Namath before a record San Diego Stadium crowd of 54,042. The team features QB John Hadl and Lance Alworth who sets a professional record with a pass reception in his 96th consecutive game. Three more wins would be followed by four straight losses which ended any hopes of postseason play. The Chargers win their last four games to finish with an 8-6 record capped by a 45-6 victory over Buffalo in the season finale. Offensive backfield coach Charlie Waller is named head coach following the resignation of Sid Gillman nine games into the season from stomach ulcer and chest hernia. Gillman continues as general manager.

1970–1981: Joining the NFL

In 1970, the San Diego Chargers settled into the AFC West division after the NFL merger with the AFL. The years after the merger were difficult. Charlie Waller took over as head coach, but after finishing 5-6-3, he stepped down and Sid Gillman returned to the job, but he quit halfway through the 1971 season, which ended with six wins and eight losses. In 1972, they got Duane Thomas and Deacon Jones, but they were no help to the struggling team, which had another disappointing season (4-9-1). In 1973, the Chargers acquired legendary Colts QB Johnny Unitas, but he was almost 40 years old and suffering the effects of accumulated injuries over the years. He managed only three games before being benched and replaced by rookie Dan Fouts, but in the meantime the team finished 2-11-1. The 1974 season was Dan Fouts's first as the starting QB and Don Woods came to the team and for that season and ran over 1,000 yards in a 5-9 finish. But the following season, Woods suffered a major sophomore slump and Fouts continued to play poorly as the Chargers ended 2-12.

The Chargers began 1976 with a 3-0 start, but Dan Fouts still struggled on-field and the team ended the year at 6-8. After another strong start to the 1977 season, San Diego lost four out of five games in a row, leading to Fouts being benched. The team ultimately finished 7-7.


1978 was a year of dramatic change as the NFL expanded the regular season to 16 games and altered the rules so that wide receivers could no longer tackle defensive backs more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. In the opening game of the season, the Chargers beat Seattle 24-20. A week later, in what has since been referred to as "Holy Roller" game, or as Chargers fans call it, the "Immaculate Deception". It was a game-winning play executed by the Oakland Raiders against the Chargers on September 10, 1978, in San Diego at Jack Murphy Stadium.[1] With 10 seconds left in the game, the Raiders had possession of the ball at the Chargers' 14-yard line, down 20–14. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler took the snap and found himself about to be sacked by Chargers linebacker Woodrow Lowe on the 24-yard line. Stabler fumbled the ball forward, and it rolled forward towards the San Diego goal line. Running back Pete Banaszak tried to recover the ball on the 12-yard line, but could not keep his footing, and the ball was pushed even closer to the end zone. Raiders tight end Dave Casper was the next player to reach the ball but he also could not get a hand on it. He batted and kicked the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out. With the ensuing extra point by kicker Errol Mann, the Raiders won 21–20,[1] In What many Charger fans believed should have been called an incomplete pass (and possibly intentional grounding) was seen as a fumble and the rest of the play involved batting of the ball forward towards the end zone where the Raiders ultimately recovered it for a touchdown .[1] As a result of this play, NFL rules were changed so that, in the last two minutes of a half or game, the only offensive player allowed to advance a fumble is the player who originally fumbled. If any other offensive player recovers the fumble and advances the ball, after the play the line of scrimmage is the spot of the original fumble.

In week 3, the Chargers lost again, but this time, to Denver in Week 3. Returning home for Week 4, the Chargers faced Green Bay in an interconference match played as a major heat wave was gripping San Diego. With kickoff temperatures around 102°F (38°C), it was one of the hottest games in NFL history. Unfortunately, for the Chargers, facing an opponent whose home was in one of the coldest NFL cities did not prove very beneficial as the Packers easily beat them 24-3. After this debacle, head coach Tommy Protho was relieved of his duties. Replacing him was ex-St. Louis Cardinals coach Don Coryell, hired the same day as the city of San Diego was shaken by the crash of a Pacific Southwest Airlines jet into a suburban neighborhood. Coryell's first game as Chargers head coach was a cross-country journey to New England, and although that match was another loss, the team's fortunes would soon turn around. With San Diego still mourning the PSA 182 crash, the Chargers returned home and shut out division rival Denver to "win one for the city". Coryell ushered in his "Air Coryell" offense with Fouts throwing to a trio of receivers featuring Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson and tight end Kellen Winslow as they rallied to finish 9–7, just barely missing the playoffs.


1979 marked a turning point for the Chargers franchise as The Sporting News named team general manager John Sanders NFL Executive of the Year after balloting of other NFL executives.[2] Coached by Don Coryell (with an offense nicknamed "Air Coryell"), Fouts set an NFL record with four consecutive 300-yard passing games, established in a game in which he threw for 303 yards against the Oakland Raiders. Coached by Don Coryell and also featuring Joiner, Jefferson and Winslow, San Diego clinched their first playoff berth in 14 years with a 35–0 victory against the New Orleans Saints. On December 17, 1979, the Chargers defeated the Denver Broncos 17–7 for their first AFC West division title since the merger before a national Monday Night Football television audience and their home crowd. Unfortunately, their playoff time was short as the Houston Oilers sent the Chargers packing with a 17–14 loss in the Divisional Round. Ron Mix became the second AFL player and second Charger to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, during halftime of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl.[3]


The 1980 team saw the team trade for running back Chuck Muncie, and Fouts set a club record with 444 yards passing in the Chargers' 44–7 victory over the New York Giants.[4] Kellen Winslow caught 10 passes for 171 yards and Chargers clinched their second straight AFC West title by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 26–17 and finished the regular season with an 11–5 record. Jefferson (1,340), Winslow (1,290), and Joiner (1,132) became the first trio on the same team to have 1,000 yards receiving in a season. The Chargers' defense led the NFL in sacks (60) spearheaded by the frontline of 1975 Chargers' draftees Fred Dean, Gary "Big Hands" Johnson and Louie Kelcher. The trio, along with Leroy Jones formed a defensive frontline that was locally nicknamed Bruise Brothers. The Chargers finished the season with a record of 11–5 (tops in the AFC West), In the playoffs, they won the divisional round 20–14 over the Buffalo Bills. However, they fell one game shy of Super Bowl XV in a 34–27 loss to the eventual-champion Oakland Raiders.


In 1981, the Chargers won their third straight AFC West title with a 10–6 season. After the division titles of the 1979 and 1980 seasons, contract disputes arose and owner Klein refused to renegotiate players' contracts. They traded wide receiver John Jefferson to the Green Bay Packers after he held out for an increase in salary but replaced him with Wes Chandler. Defensive end Dean also became involved in a holdout and was traded to the 49ers.[5] Dean contends he was making the same amount of money as his brother-in-law who was a truck driver.[6] Dean won UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year (while playing in only 11 games) that same year en route to a Super Bowl victory and helped the 49ers to another Super Bowl title two years later. Dean's loss was particularly damaging to the Chargers' Super Bowl chances as the defense weakened afterwards, surrendering the most passing yards in the NFL in both 1981[7] and 1982.[8]

In the 1981 playoffs, the Chargers outlasted the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round, 41–38, in a game that became known as The Epic in Miami. The game was voted as the best game in NFL history by a panel of ESPN journalists. The temperature was 85 °F with high humidity (29.4 °C) at the Miami Orange Bowl,[9] but it did not stop either team's offense. The Chargers were led by quarterback Dan Fouts who made the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row,[10] setting an NFL single-season record at that time of 4,802 yards and 33 touchdowns.[11] The Dolphins were led by head coach Don Shula and featured a defense that gave up the fifth-fewest points in the NFL in the regular season.[12]

This game set playoff records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79),[13] the most total yards by both teams (1,036),[13] and most passing yards by both teams (809).[13] Chargers placekicker Rolf Benirschke eventually kicked the winning 29-yard field goal after 13:52 of overtime to help San Diego beat Miami, 41–38. The image of an exhausted tight end Kellen Winslow, who finished the game with 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown and one blocked field goal, being helped off the field by two of his Chargers teammates has been replayed countless times. Winslow was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.[14]

However, the eventual-AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, playing in their first AFC Championship Game, defeated the Chargers 27–7 in what became known as the Freezer Bowl. The temperature of −9° with a wind-chill factor of −59° made this the coldest weather conditions for a title game in the history of the NFL.[15] Chargers owner Eugene Klein tried to get the NFL and Bengals to postpone the game but he was turned down.[citation needed]

"I can't say how much it affected us, because we did make it to the AFC championship game", said Johnson on the loss of fellow lineman Dean. "But I could say if we had more pass rush from the corner, it might've been different."[16]


The Chargers hosting a pre-season game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in 1987.

During the strike-shortened 1982 season, Fouts averaged what was then a record of 320 yards passing per game. (The NFL record is 342.31, set by Peyton Manning in 2013.)[17] Highlights that season included back-to-back victories against the 1981 Super Bowl teams San Francisco (41–37) and Cincinnati (50–34) in which Fouts threw for over 400 yards in each game to lead the Chargers to shootout victories.[18] The December 20, 1982 Cincinnati game was a rematch of the 1981 AFC Championship Game. The Chargers would generate a total offensive yardage record of 661 (501 yards passing, 175 yards rushing) that still stands as the most in team history in defeating Cincinnati.[19] Also during the year, Chandler, set the record of 129 yards receiving per game that is still an NFL record.[20] The Chargers made it back to the playoffs.

In 1984, Klein cut salary in preparation of selling the team, sending defensive linemen Johnson and Kelcher to San Francisco, where they would join Dean and offensive tackle Billy Shields for another 49ers championship in Super Bowl XIX.[5] Alex Spanos purchased a majority interest in San Diego from Klein on August 1. Prior to the teams move to Los Angeles, Alex G. Spanos had still owned 97% of the team and George Pernicano, owned the other 3%. Benirschke was named "Miller Man of the Year" and Joiner set an NFL record with his 650th pass reception in the fourth quarter of the game at Pittsburgh.[4] In 1985 guard Ed White set an NFL record by playing in 241 NFL games, most all-time among offensive linemen. Lionel "Little Train" James, a mere 5'6" and 171 pound running back, set NFL record of 2,535 all-purpose yards while also setting a record of 1,027 receiving yards by a running back.[21]

Al Saunders was named the seventh head coach in Chargers history in 1986 following the resignation of Coryell.[4] In 1987 Joiner retired to become receivers coach of the Chargers. The Chargers finished with an 8–7 record, their first winning record since 1982, despite winding up with six straight losses. In 1988 Fouts retired after a 15-year career in which he set seven NFL records and 42 club records, and became the NFL's second most prolific passer of all-time with 43,040 yards. Fouts's jersey number (14) was retired at halftime of "Dan Fouts Day" game in San Diego.[4]

In 1989, Dan Henning, a former Chargers quarterback, Washington Redskins assistant, and Atlanta Falcons head coach, was named the eighth head coach in Chargers history.[4] First-year running back Marion Butts set a club record with 39 carries and a team rookie record with 176 yards in Chargers' 20–13 win in Kansas City.[4] After a three-year stint as Director of Football Operations, Steve Ortmayer was released after the season and replaced by Bobby Beathard.[4]

Following Henning's three-season stint with the Chargers, Bobby Ross was hired as the ninth head coach in 1992. Additionally, the Chargers acquired quarterback Stan Humphries in a trade with the Washington Redskins.[22] San Diego lost its first four games during the season and many thought the Chargers would miss the playoffs again. However, the Chargers came roaring back and became the first 0-4 team to make the playoffs, as they won 11 of the last 12 games and clinched the AFC West title. Ross was named AFC Coach of the Year for the Chargers' dramatic turnaround..[22][23] In the Wild Card Round, they managed to shut out the Kansas City Chiefs 17-0, but they got shut out in the Divisional Round to the Miami Dolphins 31-0. In 1993, the Chargers ended up 8-8 (fourth in their division) and ending an average year on the outside looking in.


In the 1994 season, the Chargers made their first and, so far, only Super Bowl appearance, against the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX. They got to the Super Bowl by winning their first six regular season games, the only NFL team to do so in 1994, and finished the season 11–5. Quarterback Stan Humphries and wide receiver Tony Martin combined on a 99-yard touchdown completion to tie an NFL record during a defeat of the Seattle Seahawks, 27–10. They would become the 1994 AFC West Division champions behind a defense led by linebacker Junior Seau, defensive tackles Reuben Davis and Shawn Lee, defensive end Leslie O'Neal and an offense keyed by running back Natrone Means, Humphries and Martin. The Chargers had upset victories over the Dolphins and Steelers in the AFC playoffs. Despite those two close triumphs (22–21 against the Dolphins in the Divisional Round, and 17–13 against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game), the Chargers lost Super Bowl XXIX to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 49–26, who were led by quarterback Steve Young (Super Bowl MVP) and wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Despite the lopsided loss in the Super Bowl, Beathard, who traded for or drafted the bulk of the Chargers roster,[54] and who hired coach Ross, was named the NFL's smartest man by Sports Illustrated, and became the only general manager to lead three different teams to the Super Bowl (Chargers, Dolphins, Redskins).

The Chargers' follow-up year in 1995 did not bring the same success of the previous season, but the team still managed to get into the playoffs with a five-game winning streak to end the season at 9–7. However, in the first round, the Chargers were eliminated by the Indianapolis Colts in a 35–20 defeat.

They were the host team for Super Bowl XXXII and XXXVII.


During the 2005 NFL Draft, the Chargers tried to get some key rookies that would help carry the momentum from their mostly successful 2004–05 run. They used their first pick on LB Shawne Merriman from the University of Maryland. Then, they used their next pick on DT Luis Castillo from Northwestern University. Their other choices were WR Vincent Jackson from Northern Colorado, RB Darren Sproles from Kansas State, OT Wesley Britt from Alabama University, OT Wes Sims from Oklahoma University, and Center Scott Mruczkowski from Bowling Green State.

The Chargers got off to a rough start in their 2005 campaign, losing a close one to the Dallas Cowboys in their Week 1 home-opener (28-24) and then they lost on the road to their AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos (20-17). It wasn't until a Week 3 home game on Sunday night that they got their first win of the season, when Eli Manning and the New York Giants got "shocked to the system" as LaDainian Tomlinson had one of the greatest games of his career. He got 220 total yards, had 3 rushing touchdowns, and threw for a touchdown as he helped the Chargers win 45–23.

A week later, they were able to build off their win by not only beating the two-time defending champion New England Patriots 41-17, but also ending the Pats' 21-game winning streak at home. In their Week 5 Monday Night home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chargers wore their throw-back uniforms during this season (they had also worn them during the 1994 season). The Steelers held on to win with a 40-yard field goal by Jeff Reed (24–22). The Chargers rebounded on the road against their division rival Oakland Raiders (27-14). In their Week 7 road trip to Philadelphia, they hoped to build off their win against the Eagles. Late in the game, with the Chargers leading 17–13, the Chargers tried to go for a field goal to put their lead well out of reach, but it got blocked and Eagles DB Matt Ware returned it 65 yards for the game-winning touchdown and the Chargers fourth loss of the season.

After going 3-4, the Chargers turned things around as they began a five-game winning streak. They won at home against division-rival Kansas City Chiefs (28–20) and on the road against the New York Jets (31–26). Coming off their Week 10 bye, they went home and wore their throw-back uniforms again. This time, it was a dominating performance as the Chargers man-handled the Buffalo Bills, 48–10. Then, they went on the road and won a close match against the Washington Redskins (23–17 in OT) and then they swept the Oakland Raiders at home by a score of 34–10.

The Chargers were 8–5, coming off a 23–21 loss to the Miami Dolphins. On December 18, the Chargers beat the undefeated Indianapolis Colts 26-17, snapping a 13–0 winning streak. However, despite a record of 9–6, they were officially eliminated from AFC playoff contention in 2005 after a 20–7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs the following Saturday. The Chargers lost their final game of the season by a score of 23-7 to the AFC West champion Denver Broncos to finish with a record of 9-7.


The Chargers delivered an impressive performance in 2006, losing only to the Ravens and Chiefs, they finished 14–2 which secured them the #1 AFC seed in the playoffs. However, they lost 24–21 to the New England Patriots in the divisional round. In 2007, they went 11–5, beating the Tennessee Titans and the defending champion Indianapolis Colts to reach the AFC title game. However, they fell to the Patriots for the second year in a row. In 2008, the Chargers dropped to 8–8, but as the AFC West was unusually weak that year, they still managed to win the division title. Defeating the Colts in the wild card round, they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.

San Diego began the 2009 2–3. After losing to the Broncos on Monday night, they began an unbroken winning streak for the rest of the season, which included defeating the entire NFC East. In Week 11, they avenged their earlier loss against the Broncos by inflicting a 32–3 rout on them. The next game saw them beat a 1–11 Cleveland Browns squad 30–23, in which LaDainian Tomlinson broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown's rushing record and was congratulated by him afterwards. The Chargers secured another division title, the #2 AFC seed, and looked to be a near shoo-in for the Super Bowl. However, the team's postseason futility continued. Hosting the New York Jets on January 17, 2010, they endured an upset defeat, where, despite an early lead, were unable to overcome the strong Jets' defense. Kicker Nate Kaeding also missed three field goal and PAT attempts, which resulted in the Chargers losing 17–14.

Due to his age, LaDainian Tomlinson was released in March 2010 and almost as quickly found a new home with the Jets. On the season opener, the Chargers lost in Kansas City for the first time in four years, 21–14. Their home opener in Week 2 was an easy rout of the Jaguars, but they failed to sell enough tickets and consequently suffered a blackout for the first time since 2004. They followed this with a trip to Seattle in which they lost 27–20. Returning home for Week 4, the Chargers inflicted a 41–10 rout on the Cardinals, but the game was blacked out again. The following week, they lost to the Raiders for the first time in seven years. The Chargers finished the season at 9–7 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. After missing the playoffs for the third straight season in 2012, the Chargers fired general manager A. J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner.[24]

Tom Telesco, former Vice President of Football Operations with the Indianapolis Colts, was hired as the new general manager, while Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy became the new head coach.[25]

With Norv Turner taking a new job as Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy got the team off to an inconsistent 2-3 start, but then won two games in a row, against Indianapolis on Monday Night Football, then against Jacksonville. Following the bye week however, the Chargers lost four of the next five. With postseason hopes looking rather faint, the team managed to pull a proverbial rabbit from a hat as they won all the remaining regular season games and faced a combination of losses from other AFC teams that allowed them to sneak into the wild card playoffs with a 9–7 record.

On the 50th anniversary of the 1963 AFL Championship, the Chargers beat Cincinnati handily at 27–10, but their miracle season at last ended the next week in Denver as their division rival knocked them out 24–17, in what ended up being their last playoff game as a San Diego team.

Move to Los Angeles

Chargers owner Dean Spanos tried for 15 years to get San Diego to build a new stadium to replace the aging Qualcomm Stadium. He warned that he would move the team to Los Angeles if one was not built. Negotiations to get the city of San Diego to pick up part of the cost were unsuccessful. In 2015 he and the Saint Louis Rams both applied to the NFL for permission to move their teams to Los Angeles. In January 2016 the league approved the Rams' application to move, and gave the Chargers until January 17, 2017 to decide whether they also would move to Los Angeles or stay in San Diego. In November 2016 Spanos promoted a city ballot proposal to build a new downtown stadium funded in part by a new hotel tax; however, the measure failed 57% to 43%.[26]

On January 12, 2017, Spanos announced the team would move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season after 56 years in San Diego. Initially the team will play in the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The ultimate plan is for the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams to share a stadium in Inglewood, California, currently under construction.[27]


Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers played their home games from 1967 to 2016.


AFL Champions (1960–1969) Conference Champions Division Champions Wild Card Berth
Season Team League Conference Division Regular season Post-season results Awards Head coaches
Finish Wins Losses Ties
San Diego Chargers
1961 1961 AFL West 1st 12 2 0 Lost AFL Championship (Oilers) 10–3 Sid Gillman
1962 1962 AFL West 3rd 4 10 0 Earl Faison (ASG MVP) Sid Gillman
1963 1963 AFL West 1st 11 3 0 Won AFL Championship (1) (Patriots) 51–10 Lance Alworth (MVP)
Keith Lincoln (ASG MVP)
Sid Gillman
1964 1964 AFL West 1st 8 5 1 Lost AFL Championship (Bills) 20–7 Keith Lincoln (ASG MVP) Sid Gillman
1965 1965 AFL West 1st 9 2 3 Lost AFL Championship (Bills) 23–0 Frank Buncom (ASG MVP) Sid Gillman
1966 1966 AFL West 3rd 7 6 1 Sid Gillman
1967 1967 AFL West 3rd 8 5 1 Speedy Duncan (ASG MVP) Sid Gillman
1968 1968 AFL West 3rd 9 5 0 Sid Gillman
1969 1969 AFL West 3rd 8 6 0 John Hadl (ASG MVP) Charlie Waller
1970[A] 1970 NFL AFC West 3rd 5 6 3 Charlie Waller
1971 1971 NFL AFC West 3rd 6 8 0 Harland Svare (2–2)
Sid Gillman (4–6)
1972 1972 NFL AFC West 4th 4 9 1 Harland Svare
1973 1973 NFL AFC West 4th 2 11 1 Harland Svare (1–6–1)
Ron Waller (1–5)
1974 1974 NFL AFC West 3rd 5 9 0 Don Woods (OROY) Tommy Prothro
1975 1975 NFL AFC West 4th 2 12 0 Tommy Prothro
1976 1976 NFL AFC West 3rd 6 8 0 Tommy Prothro
1977 1977 NFL AFC West 3rd 7 7 0 Tommy Prothro
1978 1978[B] NFL AFC West 3rd 9 7 0 Tommy Prothro (1–3)
Don Coryell (8–4)
1979 1979 NFL AFC West 1st 12 4 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (Oilers) 17–14 Don Coryell
1980 1980 NFL AFC West 1st[C] 11 5 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Bills) 20–14
Lost Conference Championship (Raiders) 34–27
Don Coryell
1981 1981 NFL AFC West 1st[D] 10 6 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Dolphins) 41–38 (OT)[E]
Lost Conference Championship (Bengals)[F] 27–7
Kellen Winslow (PB MVP) Don Coryell
1982[G] 1982 NFL AFC 6th 6 3 0 Won First-Round Playoffs (Steelers) 31–28
Lost Second-Round Playoffs (Dolphins) 34–13
Dan Fouts (OPOY,
Don Coryell
1983 1983 NFL AFC West 5th 6 10 0 Don Coryell
1984 1984 NFL AFC West 5th 7 9 0 Don Coryell
1985 1985 NFL AFC West 3rd 8 8 0 Don Coryell
1986 1986 NFL AFC West 5th 4 12 0 Leslie O'Neal (DROY) Don Coryell (1–7)
Al Saunders (3–5)
1987[H] 1987 NFL AFC West 3rd 8 7 0 Dan Henning
1988 1988 NFL AFC West 4th 6 10 0 Dan Henning
1989 1989 NFL AFC West 5th 6 10 0 Dan Henning
1990 1990 NFL AFC West 4th 6 10 0 Bobby Ross
1991 1991 NFL AFC West 5th 4 12 0 Bobby Ross
1992 1992 NFL AFC West 1st 11 5 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (Chiefs) 17–0
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Dolphins) 31–0
Bobby Ross
1993 1993 NFL AFC West 4th 8 8 0 Bobby Ross
1994 1994 NFL AFC West 1st 11 5 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Dolphins) 22–21
Won Conference Championship (Steelers) 17–13
Lost Super Bowl XXIX (49ers) 49–26
Bobby Ross
1995 1995 NFL AFC West 2nd 9 7 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Colts) 35–20 Bobby Ross
1996 1996 NFL AFC West 3rd 8 8 0 Bobby Ross
1997 1997 NFL AFC West 5th 4 12 0 Kevin Gilbride
1998 1998 NFL AFC West 5th 5 11 0 Kevin Gilbride (2–4)
June Jones (3–7)
1999 1999 NFL AFC West 4th 8 8 0 Mike Riley
2000 2000 NFL AFC West 5th 1 15 0 Mike Riley
2001 2001 NFL AFC West 5th 5 11 0 Mike Riley
2002 2002 NFL AFC West 3rd 8 8 0 Marty Schottenheimer
2003 2003 NFL AFC West 4th 4 12 0 Marty Schottenheimer
2004 2004 NFL AFC West 1st 12 4 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Jets) 20–17 (OT) Marty Schottenheimer (COY)
Drew Brees (CBPOY)
Marty Schottenheimer
2005 2005 NFL AFC West 3rd 9 7 0 Shawne Merriman (DROY) Marty Schottenheimer
2006 2006 NFL AFC West 1st 14 2 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (Patriots) 24–21 LaDainian Tomlinson (MVP, OPOY) Marty Schottenheimer
2007 2007 NFL AFC West 1st 11 5 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (Titans) 17–6
Won Divisional Playoffs (Colts) 28–24
Lost Conference Championship (Patriots) 21–12
Norv Turner
2008 2008 NFL AFC West 1st 8 8 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (Colts) 23–17 (OT)
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 35–24
Norv Turner
2009 2009 NFL AFC West 1st 13 3 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (Jets) 17–14 Norv Turner
2010 2010 NFL AFC West 2nd 9 7 0 Norv Turner
2011 2011 NFL AFC West 2nd 8 8 0 Norv Turner
2012 2012 NFL AFC West 2nd 7 9 0 Norv Turner
2013 2013 NFL AFC West 3rd 9 7 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (Bengals) 27–10
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Broncos) 24–17
Philip Rivers (CBPOY) Mike McCoy
2014 2014 NFL AFC West 3rd 9 7 0 Mike McCoy
2015 2015 NFL AFC West 4th 4 12 0 Mike McCoy
2016 2016 NFL AFC West 4th 5 11 0 Mike McCoy
Total 416 421 5 (1961–2016, Regular season only)
11 16 0 (1961–2016, Post-season games only)
427 438 5 (1961–2016, Total for all games; 1 AFL Championship, 3 NFL Titles)


  • A As a result of the AFL-NFL merger, the league was broken into two conferences; the AFL teams moved into the American Football Conference.
  • B This season included the Holy Roller game.
  • C The Chargers finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on better net points in division games.
  • D The Chargers finished ahead of the Denver Broncos based on better divisional record.
  • E This game is known as The Epic in Miami.
  • F This game was known as the Freezer Bowl.
  • G The 1982 season was shortened by a strike, so the league was divided up into two conferences instead of its normal divisional alignment.
  • H The strike of 1987 reduced the regular season schedule from 16 to 15 games.

Retired Numbers

San Diego Chargers retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
14 Dan Fouts QB 1973–1987
19 Lance Alworth WR 1962–1970
21 LaDainian Tomlinson RB 2001–2009
55 Junior Seau LB 1990–2002

Pro Football Hall of Famers

San Diego Chargers Hall of Famers
No. Player Position Tenure Inducted
19 Lance Alworth WR 1962–1970 1978
74 Ron Mix* OT 1960–69 1979
19 Johnny Unitas QB 1973 1979
75 Deacon Jones DE 1972–73 1980
Sid Gillman Head coach 1960–71 1983
89 John Mackey TE 1972 1992
14 Dan Fouts QB 1973–1987 1993
72 Little, LarryLarry Little OG 1967–1968 1993
80 Kellen Winslow TE 1979–87 1995
18 Charlie Joiner WR 1976–86 1996
71 Fred Dean DE 1975–81 2008
55 Junior Seau LB 1990–2002 2015

(*) Indicates Player began his tenure in Los Angeles

Chargers Hall of Fame

The Chargers created their Hall of Fame in 1976.[28] The members of the Hall of Fame are honored at the Chargers Ring of Honor, founded in 2000 and viewable above the visiting team's sideline of Qualcomm Stadium on the press level.[29][30] Eligible candidates must have been retired for at least four seasons.[31] Selections are made by a five-member committee chaired by Dean Spanos, Chargers vice-chairman. As of 1992, other committee members included Bob Breitbard, founder of the San Diego Hall of Champions; Ron Fowler, president of the Greater San Diego Sports Association; Jane Rappoport, president of the Charger Backers; and Bill Johnston, the team's director of public relations.[31] The Chargers in 2012 allowed fans to vote for the newest member.[32]

50th Anniversary Team

The Chargers announced their 50th Anniversary Team in 2009 to honor the top players and coaches in the team's history. The Chargers were founded in 1959.[33] The team included 53 players and coaches selected from 103 nominees.[34][35][36] The Chargers originally stated that only 50 members would be selected.[36] Online voting by fans accounted for 50% of the voting results; votes from Chargers Hall of Famers and five members of the local media made up for the other 50%. Over 400,000 votes were cast online. Dan Fouts and LaDainian Tomlinson received the first and second most votes, respectively.[35][37] The team features 7 Pro Football Hall of Fame members and 11 players that were active on the 2009 Chargers team.[38][39]

San Diego Hall of Champions

Alworth, Mix, Hadl, Joiner, Coryell, Gillman, Garrison, Fouts, White, Winslow, Faison, Benirschke, Lincoln, Washington, Humphries, Ladd and Wilkerson are also members of the San Diego Hall of Champions, which is open to athletes from the San Diego area as well as those who played for San Diego-based professional and collegiate teams.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Inside the 'Holy Roller' play Accessed July 29, 2007
  2. ^ TSN Award Winners: NFL Executive of the Year Sporting News. Accessed July 1, 2007. Archived December 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Chronology 1970–1979 Accessed July 29, 2007. Archived April 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Chronology 1980–1989 Chargers. com. Accessed July 29, 2007. Archived March 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Say It Ain't So: San Diego Chargers Sports Illustrated. Accessed August 4, 2007. Archived August 4, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Wilson, Bernie (July 31, 2008). "Charger-turned-Niner Fred Dean answers Hall's call". USA Today. Retrieved November 3, 2008. 
  7. ^ "1981 NFL Opposition & Defensive Statistics —". Retrieved October 19, 2008. 
  8. ^ "1982 NFL Opposition & Defensive Statistics —". Retrieved October 19, 2008. 
  9. ^ 76: Winslow helped off field after Chargers' OT win Accessed July 29, 2007.
  10. ^ DAN FOUTS Pro Football Hall of Fame. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  11. ^ Dan Fouts statistics Pro Football Reference. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  12. ^ 1981 NFL Standings, Stats and Awards Database Football. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  13. ^ a b c 1981 Chargers/Dolphins Playoff Game Honored Chargers Stats. Accessed July 29, 2007. Archived March 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ KELLEN WINSLOW Pro Football Hall of Fame. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  15. ^ Freezer Bowl Referee. Accessed July 29, 2007. Archived September 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Thomas, Jim (July 30, 2008). "Fred Dean: Situational pass-rusher made most of his opportunities". The State Journal-Register. Archived from the original on February 7, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Single-Season Passing Yards per Game Leaders". Retrieved October 22, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Dan Fouts' 1982 Game Logs". Retrieved October 22, 2008. 
  19. ^ San Diego Chargers 2006 Media Guide, p. 265. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  20. ^ "Single-Season Receiving Yards per Game Leaders". Retrieved October 22, 2008. 
  21. ^ Neville, David (March 31, 2003). "Little Big Man". San Diego Chargers. Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Chronology 1990-1999 Accessed July 29, 2007. Archived January 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Pro Football Weekly NFL Coach of the Year Accessed July 1, 2007.
  24. ^ "Norv Turner, A.J. Smith fired". January 1, 2013. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. 
  25. ^ Schefter, Adam (January 15, 2013). "Chargers hire Mike McCoy". ESPN. Retrieved January 12, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Chargers chairman 'looking forward' after announcing L.A. move". ESPN. January 12, 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  27. ^ Schrotenboer, Brent (January 12, 2017). "What we know about Chargers' move to Los Angeles". USA Today. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Hood, Lindsay (October 21, 2010). "Chargers Fun Fact: Team Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. 
  29. ^ Trotter, Jim (February 3, 2000). "Chargers' future will honor players, uniforms of the past". The San Diego Union Tribune. Sports section. Retrieved March 5, 2012. (subscription required)
  30. ^ "San Diego Chargers A–Z Fan Guide". San Diego Chargers. 2011. p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b Judge, Clark (November 29, 1992). "With week to go, Raiders blackout likely". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Sports section. 
  32. ^ Gehlken, Michael (July 16, 2012). "Fans to decide next Chargers Hall of Famer". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Celebration announced for 50th season of Chargers football". The San Diego Chargers. Archived from the original on October 13, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Chargers 50th anniversary team". The Press-Enterprise. Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. 
  35. ^ a b Canepa, Nick (November 16, 2009). "Greatest Chargers list rings true". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 12, 2011. 
  36. ^ a b "Fans to select 50 greatest Chargers". The San Diego Chargers. Archived from the original on October 13, 2011. 
  37. ^ Bigelow, Bill (November 28, 2009). "Fouts chosen as all-time 'Greatest Charger'". The Bulletin. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. 
  38. ^ Williamson, Bill (November 17, 2009). "Chargers announce their all-time team". Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Fouts, Tomlinson top vote-getters for All-Time Greatest Chargers". Archived from the original on March 3, 2012.